An unmarried couple in Northern Mali, were stoned to death on Sunday. It is the first reported sharia killing since Islamists have occupied the area following a power struggle with Tuareg rebels.
Having just returned to Mali after receiving medical treatment in France for the past two months, interim Mali President Dioncounda Traore is faced with making an immediate decision on how best to deal with the Islamist occupation of the North. This latest execution has put more pressure on the interim government to find a solution as soon as possible.
On Sunday, the al-Qaeda linked Islamists in the North dragged a rural couple to the centre of Aguelhok for a public stoning. "I was there. The Islamists took the unmarried couple to the centre of the Aguelhok. The couple was placed in two holes and the Islamists stoned them to death" a local government official told news agency AFP.A second official confirmed that the couple had two children, the youngest being six months old.
Aguelhok was one of the first towns to be captured by the Tuareg separatist rebels on 24 January. About 82 civilians and soldiers were executed during the attack, using al-Qaeda style tactics. The Tuareg rebellion sparked a March coup from which Islamist groups working with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) seized on the opportunity to chase out the Tuareg and impose their version of Islam.
More recently, the Islamists destroyed an ancient World Heritage site in Timbuktu which was considered idolatrous, and thus offensive to Islam.
The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) is trying to send a 3,000 military force to Mali, but needs to wait for approval from the United Nations and a formal request from the Malian government.
Traore announced on Sunday new positions that are tasked with ending the crisis. In his first state address in months, the interim President vowed "Mali will not collapse".
On 21 May, protestors stormed the presidential palace and beat Traore, leaving him for dead. He was later found and sent to France for medical treatment. He just returned to Mali this past Friday.